Having a calm child – such an appealing concept, but how realistic is this goal? Aren’t kids naturally geared up and hyper? They certainly can be, but most children can also be incredibly quiet, thoughtful and calm. Ideally, one wants to encourage these attributes when the situation warrants it, for example, when reading, concentrating on a puzzle, sitting and listening at school, being at the supper table, riding in the car, being told instructions, being around grown-ups, etc. The challenge, of course is…HOW?
Often, as parents, we inadvertently create situations in which our children become over-stimulated, over-tired and over-zealous. Tears, tantrums, whining, hitting, pouting, jumping, climbing, kicking, spinning, fights with siblings or general grumpiness are often the result. Nutrition and health practices can have a major influence on the behaviour of a child. Below is a list of a few tips which may help to bring about calmness in your children and peace (and joy) to your household.
Keep your household and your children on a strict routine. Have them fed at the same time, in bed at the same time and up at the same time. Most children need a minimum of 9 to 11 hours during their growing years. Surveys of Canadian children indicate that most are actually sleep deprived – just like their parents. Sleep can be encouraged with homeopathic remedies or herbal tinctures that are safe for children such as linden, passionflower and chamomile.
Vitamins & Minerals
Get children on a supplement regime – a good probiotic (powder or capsule), a good multi-vitamin/multi-mineral formula and a good essential fatty acid formula (a fish oil). Nutrients in these supplements will give added support to the nutrients they get in their foods and will help you to know that all their nutritional bases are covered – especially if their diet isn’t always ‘perfect’ (fussy-eaters!). For quick and easy snacks a protein powder designed for children is a great way to deliver a lot of tasty nutrition.
Use homeopathic remedies or herbal tinctures the minute you notice that they might be coming down with something – there are plenty of options available for children these days and, unlike most over-the-counter medications, these natural remedies help to heal – they don’t just deal with the symptoms.
If your child seems to get sick a lot, gets a lot of ear infections, has trouble sleeping, wets the bed or seems irritable or hyper after meals then consider allergy testing through a naturopath. If getting out to an appointment is a challenge then try cutting out one major food group at a time. Food allergies to dairy, eggs, food dyes or gluten for example, can have a significant impact on a child’s behaviour and/or immune health.
Children need exercise – lots of it. Too much of a child’s day is now spent either sitting in school, sitting in a car, sitting at a computer, sitting in front of the TV. Kids need to run, jump, climb, walk, dance, wriggle and play everyday and many times in a day. Children need sunshine and fresh air. They need time outside. If your child is restless they may just need more movement in their life. Keep track of how much screen time they have versus movement time they have each day. You might be pretty shocked.
Children are great imitators and reflectors. If mum and dad are hyper and over-extended with their schedules and their energies then the children will model this behaviour and reflect the moods and emotions of their parents back to them. Introduce them to stress reduction techniques at an early age so that they will have these tools for life – meditation for children, yoga for kids and teaching them about the peace and quiet of nature or building the spiritual side of of their life.
Feed your children real food that you have made. The calmest children in my practice are those whose parents feed them food that they have made themselves – not pre-mixed, pre-prepared, hyper-packaged, microwaveable food that is full of UN-pronouncable ingredients. Encourage your child’s school to get involved in the Real Food For Real Kids school lunch program, join the Weston A. Price Foundation to learn about traditional healthy foods and get your children involved in food activities at home such as gardening and cooking. As Jaime Oliver says: “a child will always eat a vegetable that he or she has grown on their own”.
Detoxify your child’s environment. Toxins surround all of us all the time and they are certainly hard to avoid. Unfortunately many toxins can contribute to behaviour and mood changes – especially in a child’s smaller body. Learn as much as you can about everyday toxins in your home and try to keep the products you use with your children as ‘natural’ as possible – from natural, unscented laundry detergent to natural soaps, body lotions and sunscreens to toxin free cookware, storage containers and toxin-free furniture. An excellent book to refer to is: Slow Death by Rubber Duck by Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie.
Build a team of natural health practitioners to help guide you through the management of your child’s health and well-being – a holistic nutritionist, a homeopath or a naturopath are a few examples of practitioners who can support you and guide your towards the ultimate goal – a calm, happy, healthy and energetic child. If you continue to be concerned about your child’s behaviour after implementing the tips above them please be certain to have a full assessment with your child’s paediatrician. There may be a deeper medical issue behind your child’s behaviour.
Above all “keep calm and carry on” with a sense of humour – you can only do your best as a parent – try to enjoy your child’s unique character and these busy childhood years. They will be grown and gone before you know it.